Being a “Thug” in a Building “With Too Many Doors” Defending Students From Kids “Drugged” With “Ritalin” Indoctrinated by “Communist Democrats” – Or, Being a North Carolina Teacher

Oliver North is the incoming president of the NRA.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is an NRA member and the second-in-command in the state of Texas.

Larry Pittman is a “man of God” and also a member of NRA. He also happens to be a representative in the North Carolina General Assembly as is Rep. Mark Brody who happens to have an “A” endorsement fro the NRA.

All four of these gentlemen in the past few days have made rather interesting assertions about either the need for more guns in schools (arming teachers) or the need for teachers to be more submissive to a rather punitive job description of teachers that opposes collective bargaining.

In the aftermath of yet another school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, Oliver North was quoted as saying that the problem is too many “drugged” students.

From CNN.com,

Incoming NRA President Oliver North said the cause of such attacks is youngsters who have been “drugged in many cases.”

“Many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten,” North told Fox News Sunday (https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/20/us/malala-sabika-different-reactions-trnd/index.html). 

This coming from the man who was found guilty of selling arms to militants in a country from whom we just pulled out of a nuclear arms agreement. That country, Iran, now says it will begin enriching uranium again.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stated in a press conference after the Santa Fe shooting many things that he thought could curb violent attacks at schools.

Texas GOP Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said after the nation’s latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, that teachers need guns, parents should secure firearms safely at home, and schools should eliminate some of their entrances.

“We need our teachers to be armed,” Patrick said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” (https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/20/politics/texas-dan-patrick-cnntv/index.html). 

Those two national figures seem to have pinpointed the phantom problems: Ritalin and too many doors. Blame the doctors, the architects, and the engineers. And don’t forget the teachers themselves.

Speaking of medicating for ADHD, take a look at Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk called “Changing Education Paradigms.” It’s simply fantastic. In it he talks about the rise of ADHD diagnoses and the rise of prescriptions for Ritalin.

ritalin

 

If Ritalin really is the problem here as Oliver North would want to portray, then North Carolina might be absolutely one of the worst places to teach. In fact, if you are teacher in a NC public high school, you are already in an everlasting high-alert “tornado watch” for violence.

But according to some NC lawmakers, the problem actually is more focused on a certain subsection of the public school population.

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That is from Rep. Larry Pittman, an ordained minister, who has called for arming teachers in North Carolina to avoid having “blood on their hands” (https://caffeinatedrage.com/2018/04/18/rep-larry-pittman-jesus-would-never-have-sent-that-email-concerning-arming-teachers/). This coming from a man who did not expand Medicare to children living in poverty in NC. That number is over %20 of all the state’s children.

This echoes Lt. Gov. Patrick’s call for arming teachers, but a fellow NC lawmaker said that teachers were “thugs” in a Facebook comment talking about the recent NC teacher protest on May 16th which brought thousands of people to the capital for a day of advocating for schools including safety.

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Arming “thugs” in NC to protect schools with too many doors from people drugged up with Ritalin who may have fallen prey to the ideology of communist democrats in a state controlled by republicans.

Sounds about right.

If there ever was an argument to be made for raising teacher pay these four men just made it. It’s called hazard pay. But there is a premise that is incorrect here. If anything, the way that lawmakers have “assaulted” public schools, it seems to be that what teachers are really doing is trying to protect students and schools from the people trying to protect the gun-industry.

In all of their statements, these four white male, God-fearing lawmakers never talk about gun control measures, legislation that could save schools and students.

That irony is not lost on everybody.

Blaming the recent surge of school shootings on free-thought protected by the amendment that comes before the Second, prescribed medications, and architectural designs rather than lax gun laws can only point to one very important point – our lawmakers have a huge problem in actually confronting the truth if it does not have a large PAC associated with it.

 

Every North Carolina Lawmaker Should Be a Proctor for a State Exam

Of the many incredibly clever, spot-on, and ingenious signs from the May 16th march and rally in Raleigh, this one has remained my favorite.

proctor

“Can Anyone Here Proctor?” This gentleman was everywhere. That’s what made this sign so powerful – there is always a test to be administered and there is always a need for  proctor. If you want to get an idea of the absolute unenviable task of setting a testing schedule for a large school can be, then create one for all exams that allows for space and time and room for all accommodations.

And then find proctors for all of them.

Exams for our school system start May 30th.

They last until June 8th.

8 days for state exams.

Proctors needed for all of them.

So before the General Assembly passes yet more mandates and bills that show a complete ignorance of the tasks and duties of teachers and staffs in public schools, each lawmaker should serve as a proctor for a state exam just to get an idea of the inner workings of a school filled with duties and tasks that must be performed with limited resources and space.

Twice.

There is a booklet – http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/accountability/policyoperations/prctrgd1617.pdf.

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There is also mandatory training.

Ours is tomorrow morning at 8:00.

Don’t be late.

Oh, and next year each lawmaker should be required to administer one of those exams.

 

 

Lessons Learned on One School Day – The Education of Rep. Mark Brody

As momentum was building for the Rally for Students and March for Respect organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators, some lawmakers talked of their disapproval of the “protest” and the fact that it was happening on a school day.

Others, like Rep. Mark Brody, made more memorable statements.

RepBrodyFacebookPost

That will forever be etched into the minds of North Carolinian public school teachers as the “thugs” comment.

Please look at that Facebook posting again. It may have been written in a hurry, but it was central and developed to a particular theme: unions and blasting those who would demonstrate on a school day.

Needless to say, what Rep. Brody LEARNED on May 16th just shows what an education one can receive when he “listens” to the lesson. It also shows that May 16th might have been the most important “school day” of the entire year.

First, if there was any one slogan or term most seen in Raleigh, it was the use of the word “thug.”

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Rep. Brody might have been the biggest motivating force to get teachers to sign up and go to Raleigh within the week leading to the march and rally.

Secondly, Rep. Brody learned the value of proofreading, revising, and editing before turning in his paper (or posting on social media).

Lynn Bonner’s report on May 16th for the Raleigh News & Observer (“Why did you call us thugs? Teachers seek answers…”.), showed Brody in a more contrite mood (http://amp.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article211269714.html?__twitter_impression=true).

“I’ve been schooled a lot in the last couple of hours,” Brody said.

By making the argument that he was only referring to the NCAE in his remarks seemed weak as NCAE is neither a union and a large number of teachers who attended the rally were not NCAE members. There were parents, students, community members, and other advocates who marched and rallied.

Next, Brody seems to have a fascination with not becoming Chicago. The following is compliments of Kris Nordstrom, one of the very best education policy writers in the state if not this part of the country.

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Additionally, Bonner says that Bonner handed out cards with teacher pay information on it.

As teachers left his office, Brody handed them cards with the address to a Republican legislators’ website on teacher pay.

No doubt these were cards referring to http://www.ncteacherraise.com which has been widely debunked for its phony information. This blog had a post yesterday talking about it: https://caffeinatedrage.com/2018/05/18/dont-believe-the-hype-about-ncteacherraise-com-it-was-bs-back-then-and-even-more-so-now/.

But perhaps what Rep. Brody may have learned the hard way was that with the tremendous success of the demonstration and the fluid manner in which it carried out, more and more teachers went to bed that Wednesday night more encouraged and more determined to make the May 16th march and rally the start of something.

Rep. Brody had a lot to do with that.

In fact, there may be quite a number of new NCAE members.

 

Don’t Believe the Hype About NCTEACHERRAISE.COM – It Was BS Back Then and Even More So Now

“We need people to judge us on what we’ve done.”

– Dallas Woodhouse, NC GOP Executive Director on May 15th, 2018 (http://www.heraldsun.com/news/local/article211176454.html).

Alright, that’s exactly what I will do.

In that same report by Greg Childress of The Herald-Sun, Woodhouse talked about his party rolling out an new “application” in May 16th “that will allow teachers and others to accurately check teacher pay.”

That application is called ncteacherraise.com.

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Put in your years and away we go! I have 20 in my career.

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Looks good, if you are into glitzy numbers. But look at the small print:

This chart compares only state funded base teacher pay and does not account for other pay that generally increased overall teacher pay, including: longevity, performance bonuses, supplemental pay for National Board Certification and advanced degrees, local teacher supplements – which can be as much as an additional 24.5% of state base teacher pay, and a robust benefits package worth an average of $23,629.37 per teacher per year.

Does not account for longevity? Of course not. That was taken away and then put back into teacher’s pay checks as part of the historic 2014 teacher raise that did not in fact go to each teacher.

Performance bonuses? Those only go to a small number of teachers and even that is not weighted well.

Advanced degrees? The same GOP that made this table took those away from new teachers in 2014.

Robust benefits package worth an average of $23,629.37? Like the average salary figure of over 50K that the GOP claims NC teachers are making, this acts the same. As long as veteran teachers who are grandfathered into salaries that honor graduate degrees, then there will be a higher benefits average pension-wise. The figure given by the ncteacherraise.com site is also too high to sustain with the new salary schedule that will no longer have teachers making over 52K at the most when they reach 25+ years of teaching. Besides, most teachers are paying more for insurance.

And local teacher supplements? That means that the GOP is using local supplements to boost their own “cooked” numbers in average salary overall when they are actually forcing local LEA’s to burden the cost of so much. Remember the class size mandate?

But the most glaring inconsistencies about this site is that it never mentions two important factors: The GREAT RECESSION and ADJUSTMENT FOR INFLATION.

Look at this nice graph:

teacherpay3

 

This site is actually using the effects of the GREAT RECESSION as a part of their argument. It’s as if they are blaming the fact that revenues for the state dipped so low because of a national financial crisis caused by Wall Street on the democrats who in a biannually created budget made the projections for 2013-2014 a year or two previous.

And there is no place on this site to calculate inflation. But don’t worry, that’s been done thanks to the North Carolina Justice Center and the venerable Kris Nordstrom.

teacherpay4

Tells a completely different story. It would be nice if Dallas Woodhouse could rebut those figures with this “new application.”

But there is another falsehood surrounding ncteacherraise.com. Woodhouse said it was new. It’s not. It was used in the last election to spread the same kind of false narrative. There is a post on this blog that addressed it from May of 2016.

Here’s what it said:

A website appeared on the landscape this week that adds even more shade to an already shady proposition. Here is the home page for www.ncteacherraise.com. Notice it has the red, white, and blue of the American Flag or the colors of the new “America” Beer once known as Budweiser.

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A few questions/concerns pop into my head when first looking at this patriotic website. The first is the banner at the top, “Attracting Excellent Teachers. Building Excellent Public Schools.” Nothing could be more antithetical to the truth.

In reality, it should say, “Spurning Excellent Teachers. Razing Excellent Public Schools.” Why? Because the very same NC GOP party that created this website also has done or enabled the following in the last three years:

  • Allowed teacher pay to continue to drop when adjusted for inflation(http://www.wral.com/after-inflation-nc-teacher-pay-has-dropped-13-in-past-15-years/15624302/).

  • Removed due process rights for new teachers to keep them from advocating loudly for students and schools.

  • Removed graduate degree pay bumps for teachers entering the profession.

  • Instituted a Value Added Measurement system and Standard 6, an amorphous and unproven way to measure teacher effectiveness.

  • Pushed for merit pay when no evidence exists that it works.

  • Attacks on teacher advocacy groups like NCAE.

  • Created a revolving door of standardized tests that do not measure student growth.

  • Lowered the amount of money spent per pupil in the state.

  • Removed class size caps.

  • Instituted a Jeb Bush style school grading system that is unfair and does nothing more than show how poverty affects public schools.

  • Created an uncontrolled and unregulated system of vouchers called Opportunity Grants.

  • Fostered charter school growth that has not improved the educational landscape and siphons money from the public school system.

  • Created failing virtual schools outsourced to private industry.

  • Allowed for an Achievement School District to be considered for legislation.

  • Eliminated the Teaching Fellows Program.

  • Created an atmosphere of disrespect for teachers that teaching candidate numbers in colleges and universities have dropped 30%.

The second and more glaring aspect of this website is the need for anyone to have to place a name, email, and zip code in the fields in order to get any information – information that should not have any strings attached to it in order to access it.

Why would anyone have to give personal information to hear about this? Well, I did with generic information. The zip code is the one for the NC General Assembly.

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And I got this.

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And this…

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The first chart with the line graph simply says that a teacher in North Carolina will get to the maximum salary within 15 years of experience. But it is interesting to see how the proposed 2017-2018 salary looks inviting.

THAT’S BECAUSE ALL OF THE OTHER ONES ARE THAT BAD. When you have nothing to look at except horrible options and then you present an option that is a little less horrible, that last option will really stick out as amazing to many people. But it isn’t.

It still shows that the highest amount of salary a new teacher will ever make is 50,000. That’s terrible. As one sees his/her children grow and want to go to college, the amount of money being netted still amounts to the same. Not many teachers will appreciate making the same amount of money in year 30 as he/she did in year 15. And it totally negates that there is no longer longevity pay for veteran teachers, and no longer advanced degree pay or due process rights for new teachers.

Furthermore, it’s just a proposal. A fictitious line in the sand.

The second screen shot highlights some spun numbers and explanations of those numbers. Allow me to translate the information.

  1. $54,224 – New teacher average salary (including local supplements). This number is putting into account current teachers who do still have advanced degree pay and due process rights. They will retire first if they do not change professions. If the proposal shown in the first table is to go into effect, the average will go down over time as the top salary would be 50,000 for those who just entered or will enter the teaching profession. It’s hard to have an average salary over the highest amount given for a salary.

  2. $9,234 – Average teacher raise since 2013. First it shows how bad salaries were, but this number is truly aided by the fact that most of the raises since 2013 were for newer teachers. Veteran teachers like myself did not receive those raises. Teachers who are just starting out got them. And it does not count graduate degree pay that many veteran teachers receive in order to help them stay in the profession. Oh, and longevity pay? Gone, as teachers no longer get that. And there is also that word, “average,” which so many times does not even equate to “actual”.

  3. #1 – Projected teacher pay ranking in the southeast. I would imagine that other states have seen the lesson shown in NC that the NCGA has not learned yet. And that is other states will also keep raising teacher salaries to keep their schools filled. And there is another word used like “average” – it is “projected.” I will believe it when I see it.

  4. #24 – Projected teacher pay ranking in the nation. Remember those historic raises from 2013 that were supposed to launch us to the middle of the pack in the nation on teacher pay? That projection did not happen. We went from 42nd to …………….41st.

  5. 15 – Number of years it will take to earn a $50,000 salary. Number of years it will take after 15 years to make more than $50,000? Eternity.

  6. 33 – Number of years it took to reach $50,000 under the Democrats’ plan. Well, you have me there. No actually you don’t. Are we referring to the plan of the “Democrats” right before the Great Recession or right after it happened? Either way, the “Democrats’ plan” had longevity pay, due-process rights, advanced degree pay bumps, and kept the health benefits at a steady pace. Adding in those factors and you might see why teaching as a career in North Carolina back before 2013 was much more inviting than it is now.

  7. $198,650 – A teacher’s additional pay over a 30-year career. Again, misleading. First, the $50,000 salary cap at year 15 is designed to make sure that veteran teachers do not stay in the profession. Secondly, this projection is not taking into account that the current retirement system may change. Look at all of the changes that have occurred in only the last three years. Imagine what might be planned for the next thirty.

 

It was BS back then. It’s even more so now.

 

 

 

May 16th Was Just the Beginning – Now the Work Really Begins – Red4EdNC

The question “So, where does it go from here?” seems to be the most asked question since the end of the May 16th Advocacy March and Rally in Raleigh. Ironically, this is not just a question for the General Assembly, but for many teachers in NC.

That “where we go from here” isn’t just about physical action and overt advocacy. It’s more than that.

It’s mental as well. It means viewing May 16th as a singular moment in a much larger movement, one that hopefully will culminate in a favorable November election season where a pro-public General Assembly will be elected and undo what has been a systemically slow cut to our public schools.

That kind of mindset helps to guide proactive actions.

It can help teachers and advocates to be more mindful in shedding a light on issues that truly affect public schools: per-pupil funding, vouchers, teacher pay, and numerous others. That can be done by writing lawmakers, op-eds in newspapers, or simply talking with voters.

Ultimately it means getting connected with others who also advocate. As each public school is a foundational institution in the community it serves, groups of teachers who work collaboratively can create great positive change – contagious positive change.

Just look at May 16th. The collective group as a whole is so much stronger than the sum of our individual parts. We must stay connected.

One of the ways to connect with other groups of teachers is to go to red4ednc.com and register  to be part of a community of teachers and advocates already linked together with a mission to keep people informed and aware.

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The hope is that each county in NC will have people registered which will ensure that all school systems here are connected. That’s crucial as the NC General Assembly’s summer session is convening and people all over need to be kept up to date with pending legislation and mandates.

Think of it as creating a digital foundation to keep teachers informed and motivated to continue what May 16th helped to start.

Think of it as making a moment into a series of more moments that transforms into a movement.

Our students depend on us outside of the classroom as well.

I ask you to visit the site and consider registering.

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So, This Is What Class Size Chaos Looks Like

Remember when lawmakers in Raleigh like Chad Barefoot and Phil Berger told you that the class size mandate was a good thing and had already been funded, and then you realized that they were lying?

Straight through their teeth?

With a smile?

If either one of them looked outside their office or the legislative chambers they may have seen images such as these:

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Looks like a lot of people in a small space who are forced there because of unfunded mandates.

 

Dear Sen. Berger and Rep. Moore, Exactly What is the Job Description of a Public School Teacher? Because You Seem to Have All the Answers

Almost four years ago, Sen, David Curtis delivered a rather uneducated response to a letter from a young teacher in which he outlined a close-minded viewpoint of the teaching profession (http://wunc.org/post/teacher-email-legislators-draws-harsh-reply#stream/0).

Needless to say, it garnered quite a response from teachers around the state.

Other public education critics have gone out of their way to express a narrow-minded take on the teaching profession. For instance:

tim-peck-tweet

Actually, the answer to that is over $100,000. I did the math here: https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/09/20/so-whats-the-market-rate-for-an-unaccountable-degree-holding-babysitter-i-assume-he-meant-teachers/.

In a state where the teaching profession has undergone assault after assault from lawmakers such as yourselves, many in Raleigh who claim to represent the best interests of the state pin their opinions of teacher and school performance on test results and financial bottom lines. They (and you) then craft policies that match those opinions.

So I want to ask a non-rhetorical question of you (and actually anyone else), what exactly is the job description of a North Carolina public school teacher?

This is by no means a loaded question or one that is asked to create a nebulous web of answers that would cloud the actual debate. But if public education is to be an issue that defines another session of the NC General Assembly, that decides votes in a huge election year, and that all people already have some sort of stake in, then what the role of a public school teacher in North Carolina might need to be more understood.

So, would you please clarify:

Is it to deliver curriculum and teach mastery?

Is it to help students grow into productive citizens?

Is it to “teach” the whole child – intellectually, mentally, emotionally, etc.

Is it to get students to pass standardized tests?

Is it to keep students safe?

Is it all all of those things and much more?

Below is a screenshot from the statutes of the General Assembly concerning the “duties” of teachers.

duties of teachers

They include a variety of “duties,” some more defined than others: discipline, “teaching,” reporting, provide for well-being, medical care, keep order, etc.

Now throw in some other factors and variables that have a direct effect on those “duties” like poverty, hunger, sickness, apathy, lack of resources, overcrowding, and respect for the profession. It makes those duties in the above statute seem a little more expansive.

So, what is the real job description of a public high school teacher in North Carolina that considers the defined duties, expectations, and realities of public educators? And are you willing to share that as a lawmaker who makes decisions on how teachers are resourced, treated, and viewed? If not, then you might need to educate yourself.

And if you are willing, are you ready to hear from teachers the truth?

But after all the platitudes, accolades, and lip service that you have paid to the teaching profession, every lawmaker must ask him/herself, what is it really worth?

Because teachers in other states are speaking very loudly.

The Part Of The “Listening Tour” The State Superintendent Refused to Attend

When I took office as State Superintendent, I embarked on a statewide listening tour to hear directly from educators, parents, and community and business leaders. Now I am able to focus on priorities highlighted by teachers from Murphy to Manteo. I believe appreciating teachers means listening to their concerns and working to support them” – Mark Johnson from “Ways to show our teachers appreciation” from EdNC.org on May 8th, 2018 (https://www.ednc.org/2018/05/08/ways-to-show-our-teachers-appreciation/).

When Johnson penned this op-ed he made reference to his “NC Education & Innovation Tour.” One stop was in my home district in Forsyth County last year.

listening

The part of that quote which states, “I believe appreciating teachers means listening to their concerns” seemed very relevant to yesterday’s rally and march in Raleigh for teachers and public education.

Why? Because it seems that if Johnson really was interested in “listening” to teachers, then yesterday might have been the best opportunity to really engage with nearly 20,000 of them.

Think of it as a stop on the NC Education & Innovation Tour that Johnson refused to attend, even though teachers from Manteo to Murphy actually came to him. In this case, Johnson’s actions to not join those he supposedly supports speak so much louder than his words.

And Johnson makes the distinction between action and words. He said so himself in that op-ed on EdNC.org.

At the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, we are working hard to show our appreciation with actions, not just words and fanfare.“

The fact that Johnson did not make one attempt to come and “listen” to those teachers, parents, advocates, and students who came to Raleigh speaks volumes. He did say earlier lack week that he would not attend the rally.

“I absolutely support teachers, but I do not plan to attend a protest on a school day.”

He may call it a “protest.” That’s fine. Many people there called it advocating. In fact, most everybody there called it necessary.

It also was a chance to “listen,” which unlike “hearing” is an active endeavor.

And actions mean more than words.

Johnson said so himself.

Mark November 6 As A Day To March And Rally For Our Schools – At The Ballot Box

One would hope that the current General Assembly is a little scared of us public school teachers and our supporters. Look what happened today:

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And they should be very concerned; aside from the Women’s March of 2017, this might have been the largest demonstration on the NCGA in history.

What had originally looked like an election year to simply resupply the NCGA with more ultra-conservatively minded demagoguery has now morphed into a debate about how our state government should serve citizens and fully fund our public schools.

Today in Raleigh, the Rally for Respect and March for Students helped to turn the focus of the elections coming in November to the right to a quality public education (explicitly defined by Section 15, Article 1 of the NC Constitution).

Remember, North Carolina has 100 counties (with 115 LEA’s), each with a public school system. According to the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Dept. of Commerce, the public schools are at least the second-largest employers in nearly 90 of them—and the largest employer, period, in 66. That means teachers represent a base for most communities, the public school system.  And we are strong in numbers.

Just look at today’s march and rally. Not a single time was there a word given to discourage what teachers and public educators were trying to support. There was a single purpose. Complete focus. And support from others.

Those running for the General Assembly in November knew that they were not fully funding public schools two years ago. They knew it when they took away due-process rights and career status from new teachers. They knew it when they froze pay scales and then offered “average” raises to cloud the truth. They knew it when they abolished the Teaching Fellows Program. They knew it when they took away graduate degree pay for newer teachers. They knew it when they allowed unregulated charter schools to take money earmarked for public schools. They knew it when they created Opportunity Grants. They knew it when they allowed for an “Innovative” School District to come to our state.

Considering the amount of counterproductive measures placed on our public schools today, the fact that we teachers and support personnel still educate and serve our kids to a high degree of effectiveness tells me that North Carolina’s teachers are still passionate and of merit. Teachers do not define themselves through partisan, political definitions; they define themselves by a duty to educate students and as a team of professionals working together, not individual contractors whose service is dictated by a yearly indenture.

And what a display of professionalism that was displayed today because part of the teacher’s job is to advocate for students and schools.

Over 20K did it today just in Raleigh. Many more did in their hometowns.

And we all can advocate for our schools come November by voting.

 

Rep. Tim Moore and the North Carolina General Assembly’s Quest to Make Veteran Teachers Extinct

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The powers that rule in the North Carolina General Assembly have been waging a war against public schools in our state for the last four years. Under the guise of “reform,” GOP conservatives driven by ALEC-crafted policies have successfully enabled and instituted privatization efforts in many forms: unregulated charter school development, expansive growth of unproven vouchers, underfunding traditional public schools (early and middle colleges), and even propped an educational neophyte as state superintendent who has passively allowed the very department that is set to protect public schools to be heinously undercut.

However, the latest moves against public schools in North Carolina might signal the next step in overhauling education in the Old North State – the systematic elimination of the veteran teacher.

From the News & Observer’s Will Doran:

The Republican-led legislature has already approved raises for teachers that its leaders say will average out to about 6 percent next year. They have also floated the possibility of bonuses on top of those raises, for some teachers with specialized skills. But Democrats say more is needed, and are rallying behind Cooper’s more expensive plan. He says his plan would give teachers an average raise of 8 percent, and that it also would give raises to veteran teachers, who are left out of the legislative plans (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article211106649.html).

Let me rephrase that.

A gerrymandered lawmaking body is proposing a budget that further indicates that many lawmakers in Raleigh will go to any length to poach the educational profession of veteran teachers.

Rep. Tim Moore in an attempt to defray any more attention from his anti-teacher tendencies literally just announced that there will be raises for teachers again this year – except not for veteran teachers. Just read the last line of the quoted portion of the N&O’s report.

In the last four years, new teachers entering the profession in North Carolina have seen the removal of graduate degree pay bumps and due-process rights. While the “average” salary increases have been most friendly to newer teachers, those pay “increases” do plateau at about Year 15 in a teacher’s career. Afterwards, nothing really happens. Teachers in that position may have to make career-ending decisions.

Without promise of much pay increase and no graduate degree pay bumps, those teachers may have to leave a profession they not only excel in and love, but serve as models for younger teachers to ensure professional integrity, the kind that was allowed to shine in a North Carolina of yesteryear when Republican governors and lawmakers were in the forefront of making sure public schools were a strength. And those teachers will not have due-process rights that would allow them to speak up about issues like compensation for fear of reprisal.

Student will suffer; communities will suffer.

The taking away of retiree state health benefits for teachers hired after January of 2021 is another step to create a system where students are more or less taught by contractors because the endangered species known as the “veteran teacher” will come to the point of extinction.

Lynn Bonner reported in the News & Observer last June (“State retiree health coverage to end for future NC employees”),

Republican state senators want limits on future retiree benefits to control costs and get the state more in line with perks private-sector employees get. The state employee health plan has a $42.2 billion unfunded liability, estimated future costs that are outpacing revenue.

The retiree health care provision is in the budget the legislature passed this week. Republican senators filed a bill limiting future state employees’ retirement benefits that received a committee hearing earlier this year. That bill never went to a vote (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article157928844.html).

That whole idea of getting “the state more in line with perks private-sector employees get” might be one of the most misleading mantras that rules the mindsets of these lawmakers. Why make a public sector service run like a business when public schools aren’t allowed to be businesses? If that were a reality, then schools could treat lawmakers like a Board of Directors of sorts and then rally to oust them at any time beside election years.

 

And that whole revenue debacle? When those same lawmakers enact laws like HB2 and make ill-informed and misguided expenditures like giving the state superintendent legal fund money to sue his own state board, financing pork barrel spending, and expanding unproven vouchers (despite evidence to the contrary http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article157926389.html ) all the while bragging about a surplus as they lower taxes for wealthy people, it is easy to call into doubt that it is the state retirement system causing all of this financial unrest.

Bonner later reports,

Representatives from state employee, retiree and teacher organizations said eliminating the retirement benefit will hurt recruitment and retention. State salaries don’t compete with private-sector wages, they said, so retiree benefits are an important lure.

Mark Jewell, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said everyone thought the proposal to end retiree benefits was dead. “Then, it sneaks up buried in the budget,” he said.”

This proposal “snuck up” because it was meant to.

It was meant to surreptitiously take away more from the teaching profession, which has valiantly fought against the regressive “reforms” of the NC General Assembly. To say that educational issues did not weigh into the elections of Roy Cooper and Josh Stein into office in a state that overwhelmingly voted for Trump would sound uneducated. State Treasurer Dale Folwell called it a “knee-jerk reaction.”

No, it was not.

This General Assembly went out of its way to cut Stein’s budget, limit Cooper’s constitutional powers, and keep assaulting the very people who still pose a threat against the privatization of public education – veteran teachers.

Oddly enough, retiree benefits are one of the last recruitment tools that our school systems can use to bring in teachers who make education a profession. Bonner reports,

Richard Rogers, executive director of the N.C. Retired Governmental Employee Association, said the organization is going to try to get the decision reversed before 2021.

“There’s no doubt in my mind – having retiree health brings the best and the brightest to the state,” he said.

Right now, we are not attracting the best and brightest. Just look at the past four years and see what has been done to make teaching an unenviable career in North Carolina. This recent action is making sure that anyone who may want to teach in North Carolina in the future will not stay in the profession for long.

Sen. Chad Barefoot’s Bill SB599 should then not be so puzzling. Bringing in alternate teacher-preparation programs that can be controlled by the state weakens the profession overall. This bill was supposedly introduced to help with the shortage in teachers. Why would we have a shortage of teachers?

That’s not a rhetorical question.

If the trends stay in place and we as a state do not replace those in Raleigh with lawmakers who will fully fund public schools and reinstate the very items that attract the best and brightest, then we will literally make the North Carolina veteran teacher an extinct entity.

Something else in Bonner’s report really shed light on the process by which those in Raleigh have promoted their version of secretive “democracy.” It came in an email response from the Office of State Human Resources.

“We value state employees, and reducing benefits for them potentially sends the wrong message about the important work they do and the services they provide for the people of North Carolina. We would appreciate an opportunity to openly discuss, study and collaborate on this important issue.”

  • Openly discuss?
  • Study?
  • Collaborate?

If there is one thing that many GOP lawmakers like Berger, Moore, Barefoot, Tillman, and others of their ilk (who don’t have term limits) despise more than veteran public school teachers, it’s open dialogue that may expose their hypocrisy.

And if they actually studied and researched, they would see that most every “reform” that they are enacting has a terrible track record in other states.

And they sure as hell don’t collaborate unless it is in a locked room with only those of like opinions.

Veteran teachers openly discuss, study, and collaborate.

And we will fight.

Especially tomorrow, May 16th in Raleigh.